Miami-Dade County

Remains along Palmetto are those of St. Thomas Aquinas grad Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer Bennett, a 27-year-old paralegal, was last seen on June 7.
Jennifer Bennett, a 27-year-old paralegal, was last seen on June 7. Miami-Dade Police

The body found on the side of the Palmetto Expressway on Wednesday is Jennifer Bennett, a friend confirmed Friday.

Bennett, 27, was last seen on the afternoon of June 7. She took her grandmother to a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, then went to see a man she was dating. On her way to see him, he called off the date and she headed home. Her last text was sent at 8:48 p.m.

Miami-Dade police found her disabled car abandoned on the eastbound side of the Palmetto Expressway near 12th Avenue. Her purse, cellphone, keys and shoes were still inside.

On Tuesday, a work crew in the same area found human remains. Miami Gardens police had to cut through tree branches with a chainsaw to retrieve the body, which was confirmed to be a woman on Wednesday by the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office.

Police have not confirmed that the woman is Bennett, nor have they released the cause of death, but close family friend Roberta DiPietro confirmed to the Herald that police had identified her as Jennifer Bennett.

“They called it a tragic accident,” said DiPietro, whose daughter was close friends with Bennett from their days at St. Rose of Lima School and St. Thomas Aquinas High School. “It’s a tragedy.”

The young woman, daughter of a Miami-Dade police detective, had endured the deaths of both parents in recent years.

The community’s help in searching for Bennett, and the thoughts and prayers of so many touched DiPietro.

“We’re very thankful for the outpouring of support,” she said.

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc